The Civil Rights Movement:
Freedom Summer Storypath
Margit E. McGuire, Seattle University

Overview of The Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Summer Storypath

The Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Summer unit evolves over six episodes as students learn about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Students create civil rights workers who travel to Jackson, Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to register Black voters for the upcoming presidential election.  Through this process they examine issues of justice and equality and learn about the courage of the civil rights workers and Black families who risked their jobs, property, and sometimes their lives to register to vote. The unit naturally integrates social studies, literacy, and art as students create civil rights workers, plan for their trip, encounter prejudice and discrimination, and consider the Constitutional rights guaranteed to all citizens--including the right to vote. The story follows the basic structure shown below, but can develop naturally as students contribute their own ideas and decisions.  Students immerse themselves in Freedom Summer by creating the characters, imagining the trip to Jackson, Mississippi in the summer of 1964, and then tackling problems of injustice and discrimination. The Storypath is concluded with a farewell event as the civil rights workers return home at the end of the summer. It is the goal of this Storypath to provide students with a realistic view of the challenges of living in this time and place and a deep and personal understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.


Episode 1  Creating the Characters: THE CIVIL RIGHTS WORKERS 

Students learn about the Civil Rights Movement and then create civil rights workers.

Episode 2  Creating the Setting: PREPARING FOR THE TRIP 

Students prepare for the trip to Mississippi and learn about life in the 1960s.

Episode 3  Critical Incident: SERVICE REFUSED

Students respond to the civil rights workers being refused service at a restaurant.

Episode 4 Critical Incident: STAY OR LEAVE 

Students learn of the deaths of civil rights workers and must decide if they will stay and continue to register voters or return home.

Episode 5 Building Context: THE FREEDOM SCHOOL

Students plan how they will convince the local people to register to vote and make presentations about voting and citizenship.

Episode 6  Concluding Event: THE FAREWELL

The summer is coming to an end and the civil rights workers prepare to return home. A farewell gathering is planned.

Synthesis Activities: ASSESSMENT

Students demonstrate learning by completing a synthesis activity.


Download "The Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Summer Storypath" in PDF format. 
The file "FreedomSummer.pdf"  and may be opened and printed using 
free Adobe Acrobat reader software.

For background go to: Take Me Back to the 60s

MONTE SCHOLZ of Islander Middle School, Mercer Island, Washington created the following assessments for use at the middle school level. He has given permission to make them available on this WEB site. Other assessments are included in the curriculum.

Reading List for additional books to support The Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Summer Storypath.
See pages 6-9 for additional resource both books and Websites.

Websites for further information

University of Mississippi Libraries: Civil Rights/Race Relations

African American Odyssey:   Civil Rights Era

Civil Rights Oral History Interviews (Washington State University)

Music of the Civil Rights Movement


Storypaths units are available from or by calling 1-800-359-0961 or Fax 1-800-700-5093
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